Fred Briggs is perhaps best known as the husband/business partner of the wonderful Kim Tolliver – but his resume in the music biz was far wider than that. As a writer he provided the quite superb ballad “Strung Out Over You” for the Dells and Mavis Staples covered “You’re Driving Me Into The Arms Of A Stranger”. Best of all, however, was his work with Kim for Margie Joseph. In concert with co-writer and co-producer Darryl Carter they put together the LP “Margie Joseph Makes A New Impression” for Stax subsidiary Volt. Tracks like the brooding beater “Sweeter Tomorrow” and the beautifully realised “Punish Me” are among the best from the early 70s.
But despite earning a living primarily as a songwriter/producer Briggs was also a singer. The lively “Someone To Care For Me” was released by Congress in 1964, but his second 45 a few years later is his acknowledged masterpiece. Sound Off is a genuine classic – it’s cult status secured by the rarity of the vinyl. Listen to the power and authority he brings to the lyrics, not to mention his impeccable timing and superior sense of dynamics. I simply can't believe that this disc - which seems to have been a one-off - was cut in Detroit despite producer/label owner Don Davis' involvement. No Motor City organ player or drummer sounded like this and the horn section is pure Memphis.
In the 70s Briggs returned to singing hiding under the assumed name Coldwater Stone. The LP “Defrost Me” was recorded while he was cutting Kim’s material for Fantasy and Chess during the previous couple of years. The material and production values were in a similar vein (possibly a little over the top for fastidious tastes like mine) but sadly he did not come across as convincingly a vocalist as he had done previously. It was Tolliver who contributed the most intense ballad on the set, the Muscle Shoals recorded Outside Love Affair and who, no doubt, appeared on backing vocals, but there were other fine tracks too like “The End Of The World” with it’s excellent chord structure and the melodic “Without The One You Love”. But the set sank without trace in a crowded marketplace – no doubt assisted in it’s demise by one of the most hideous covers ever to deface an album sleeve.
The train song / Someone to care for me ~ CONGRESS 228 (1964)
Sound off / I'm so sorry ~ GROOVE CITY 202 (1967)
When he breaks your heart / Outside love affair ~ GSF 6890 (as COLDWATER STONE) (1972)
Defrost me GSF LP 1010 (as COLDWATER STONE) (1973)